- "Special Victims Bureau: how may I direct your call?"

- "Mike Cutter, please."

- "One moment… I'm sorry; Mr. Cutter has left for the day. Can I take a message?"

- "No…that's okay. I'll try his cell. Thank you."

- "This is Mike Cutter. Please leave your name and any pertinent information, and I will return your call within 24 hours." *beeeeeeep*

- "Hey, Mike, it's Connie… I haven't heard from you in a while, and I was just wondering how you've been. How's the job treating you? Call me when you can… Bye."

- "…I will return your call within 24 hours." *beeeeeeep*

- "Hi, Mike, it's Connie…again. It looks like you're busy, but I'd love to hear from you. I'm getting a little homesick. The only person who laughs at my jokes out here is Detective Morales, and that's because he doesn't have the heart to tell me that they're awful. Anyway… Please, call me."

- *beeeeeeep*

- "Okay, look, I know that I deserve this. I hurt you. I'm sorry… But you're making me feel like the stalker. I'm from La Mirada, Mike. You don't want to see the crazy I've managed to downplay for the past 10 years. Anyway, I…I miss you. I hope you'll call."

- "Special Victims Bureau: how may I direct your call?"

- "Can I speak to Mike Cutter, please?"

- "Mr. Cutter is in a meeting—can I take a message?"

- "Yes. Can you tell him that Connie called, that it's urgent?"

- "Is everything okay, ma'am? You sound very upset. I… I could send your call through, if it's an emergency."

- "No, that's okay, thank you."

- *beeeeeeep*

- "Mike… I really need you to call me back. I need to hear your voice. Something terrible has happened. Please, I really need you right-…*buzz buzz* *buzz buzz* Hello?"

- "Connie?"

- "M-Mike… Where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for…for weeks! I was just leaving you another message…"

- "Yeah, well, I've been busy feeling sorry for myself. I heard about your mother, Connie. Jesus, I… I don't even know what to say. I feel like a complete ass."

- "You don't have to say anything... Just listen. Mike, am I a horrible person for taking this as a hint that I should go back to New York?"

- "Connie-…"

- "My whole family is here, right now. The funeral was this morning. Even though I'm supposed to be grieving and remembering my mother for the strong, beautiful woman that she was, I'm angry at her. I feel… I feel so selfish and rotten for saying this, but I changed my entire life for nothing!"

- "Connie-…"

- "I thought she was getting better, Mike. Then, she went to sleep one night, and she never woke up. Now, everything is in limbo—my life, my career, my family…the prospect of my own family."

- "I wouldn't say that. What about the someone you've been seeing?"

- "He's long gone, Mike. I scared him off, like all of the others, and it looks like I'm headed down the same path with you..."

- "Connie, I'm more than willing to chat about this over the phone… but it looks a lot warmer inside. I'm on the front lawn, and the neighbors are starting to stare, not to mention the old guy on the porch, who I'm guessing is a relative."


Connie practically tumbled down the stairs, earning startled glares from her brothers. She flung open the front door and crossed the lawn to where Mike stood, still holding his cell phone to his ear. Their silhouettes were dark against the early evening backdrop of Los Angeles, the sun still peaking over the horizon. She threw her arms around Mike's neck, taking any and all measures to assure that he was really there. She pulled away and studied his face, a gentle dusk breeze whipping strands of her hair across her sunken cheekbones. "What are you doing here?"

"A friend needed me." He gestured at the car-lined street and driveway. "I would have been here earlier, but I was forced to circle the block a few times."

"I can't…believe…you're actually here. How…how did you know where to find me?"

"You're not the only one who's been busy making phone calls."

"I don't deserve this…"

"You're probably right, and I shouldn't be here. I lied to my boss to get a few days off, and I've left my team of maverick ADAs in charge of several demanding cases. It's almost guaranteed that when I get back to New York, I'll be in more than one doghouse. That doesn't matter, though, because right now, the person I care about most in the world is hurting. I'm turning off my phone, and I'm doing something I should have done a long time ago." He brushed a defiant tear from the top of her lips and kissed her.

AN: I wanted romance... so sue me :)